Although recorded history does not exist about the origins of Angamaly, legends and local folklore attribute the name Angamaly to the grounds where battles (Ankam in Malayalam language) were conducted at a myal (attributed as a plain ground). Hence a very old battle ground. Another legend is that the word Ankamaly is derived from Akamaly I.e.inland port area. Several old coins and other artefacts found from the region tells this area was predominant with Buddhists and Jains in very old time. The 18 and a 1/2 viharas around Angamaly is a proof for this. Malayatoor, which is Christian devotional centre, is very near to Angamaly. It is said that St. Thomas, the Apostlate who was deputed to the region by Jesus Christ came via Angadikadavu in Angamaly using Manjali thodu to come from Kodungaloor port at AD 58. There are evidence for the churches in the locality built as early as AD 409 and AD 822. It was the headquarters of Mar Abraham, Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Angamaly and Hind in the sixteenth century. Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Sri Sankara is only 7 kilometers from here, it is there the Sanskrit University situates. Historians records that a massive flood around the 16th century AD made the Angamaly river to change the course forced itself to flow through Aluva area. Now the river is called Chalakudy river and is the fifth longest river in Kerala. Meanwhile, the river in Angamaly became a lesser canal and there by got the name Manjaly thodu.

History of Kerala - Ancient Period

Ancient Period refers to the time before the Christian era. As mentioned earlier, history of Kerala can be traced back to 4000 B.C., when Proto Australoid and Negrito race inhabited the land. Microlithic artifacts dating back to 4000 B.C. have been recovered from near Calicut. Megalithic monuments like various kinds of burial stones and urns and some man-made underground chambers have also been found. By around 3000 B.C., Kerala had trade relation with Sindhu Valley Civilization and its spices and commodities like Sandalwood, Ivory, Teakwood etc. were exported to many countries of the west. Kerala held a considerable position in the commercial map of the ancient world. It is believed that the Peacocks, Monkeys, Ivory and spices which King Solomon received, were imported from Kerala . It was by 700 B.C. that the Dravidians migrated to south India from the Mediterranean region. The Aryans entered Kerala from north India by 300 B.C. 270 B.C. to 240 B.C. saw the spread of Buddhism in Kerala. The oldest record about Kerala is found in one of the rock edict by emperor Asoka dating back to B.C. 257.

Sangham Period in Kerala History

This period can be dated from the beginning of the Christian era to the middle of the 7th century. 'Sanghams' were assemblies or groups of poets which were in existence in various parts of the Pandiyan Empire. The aim of these Sanghams was to encourage poetic arts. Three Sanghams are known to have existed during the period. Heppalus, a Roman-Greek sailor reached Musiris (Kodungalloore) in A.D. 45 and this enabled direct trade with Roman empire. The distance of sea voyages were reduced by the discovery of new routes. Many mariners like Heppalus, Panthenus, Huan Tsang, Cosmos Indicopleustes etc., landed at the coasts of Kerala during this period.

By around 50 - 125 A.D., the Chera kings captured parts of northern Kerala. During this period also, Kerala had strong trade with the West. In A.D. 52, St. Thomas reached Kerala and Christianity began to flourish. With the demolition of Jerusalem church by the Romans, the Jews fled from Israel and some of them reached Kerala. As per the book Keralolpathy, the period up to 216 A.D. is known as 'Parasurama period' and the period 216 A.D. to 428 A.D. is known as age of 'Perumals'. The Brahmin families which migrated to Kerala were settled to 64 villages. In 644 A.D., Malikben Dinar reached Kerala and he constructed Mosques and propagated Islam. Cheran Chenguttuvan (125-180) was one of the famous rulers of this era.

Post-Sangham Period in the History of Kerala

The period ranging from the middle of 7th century to the early part of the 9th century is known as the Post - Sangham period. This was the period when Buddhism began to decline. The main rulers of this period were Cheraman Perumal and Kulasekara Alwar. Both these kings later abdicated their thrones. Kulasekara Alwar later became a Vaishnavite poet and Cheraman Perumal accepted Islam and went to Mecca. Adi Shankara (Sankaracharya, 788 - 820 A.D.) lived and propagated the Advaida philosophy during this period. Each king during the period was enthroned for a period of 12 years. After his term, a new king was selected following a festival or cultural event known as ' Mamankam '. These type of events are unique to Kerala

Kulasekara Periods - Kerala History

The next period in Kerala history is the period of rule of the Kulasekara Kings. Kulasekara empire lasted for about 3 centuries beginning from 800 AD. This period is also known as the Period of 'Second Chera' empire. These kings were known after their family name as Kulasekaras. Kolla Varsha or the Quilon Calendar (Malayalam Calendar system) was introduced during this period. It came into existence on the 25th of July , 825 A.D. Quilon city was reconstructed by Maruvan Sabareso. The Pandyas retreated from Kerala occupation.Sthanu Ravi Varma, Bhaskara Ravi I, Bhaskara Ravi II were main rulers of this period. Between 1000 and 1019, Raja Raja Chola and Rajendra Chola attacked Kerala. Rajendra Chola seized vizhinjam. In 1070 Kerala was liberated from Chola control.

Kerala History - Period of the Provincial rulers

Frequent wars with the Chola and Pandya kingdoms weakened the Chera empire and finally lead to their breakdown. With the breakdown of Chera empire the next phase of Kerala history began. This was the period of the provincial rulers. Provincial rulers were those who took control of a small province rather than a large empire. These provinces were once part of the Chera empire. The provincial rulers were confined to small areas but they frequently fought each other for domination. The kings of Venad and Kochi and Zamorins of Kozhikode were the prominent rulers.

After the central administration of the Perumals came to an end, political fragmentation took place, and this gave rise to the emergence of 'swaroopams" or naduvazhis, which were autonomous territories. These were known by the original locality of the joint family where they were located. The senior-most member of the joint family became the ruler of the swaroopam and known as the moothakur. However, as the families grew large in number, there emerged, junior families known as ilayamkoors which had the gradation, rights and privileges divided amongst themselves. Some of the swaroopams, in the course of time, developed into nadus, covering vast territories. A nadu consisted of several urs or settled villages. The rulers of such nadus thus became the authority of power with the support of the nair militia, their resources, and traditional elite. The Brahmins also extended their support to such local rulers after obtaining a pledge from them by performing a yagna that they will protect brahmins, cows and uphold dharma. 

Rulers, the Archdeacons and the Churches of Angamaly

With the disintegration of the centralized power structure of the Cheras of Mahodayapuram in the twelfth century, the local principality known as Mangattu asserted authority over the region, stretching from the areas of Alenagdu bordering Verapoly till the areas of Angamali bordering the terrains of Koratty. The Christians of Alengadu and Angamali formed  the major economically powerful social segment in this kingdom, out of whom the Thachil family of Kuthiathodu later evolved as a key economic and political player in the kingdom of Mangattu with Thachil Thariathu (the father of Thachil Mathu Tharakan, the famous merchant of the English and the  Travancorean ruler Dharmaraja in the eighteenth century after the merger of Mangattu kingdom in the state of Travancore following Marthanda Varma’s conquest) as its minister.

The other churches and Christian settlements located on the borders of Angamali like Moozhikulam, and Manjappra were in the kingdom of Parur, Koratty was in the terrains of Koratty kaimal affiliated to the Zamorins of Calicut, the churches of Kanjoor, Chowara and Malyattoor were in the kingdom of Cochin  and that of Cranganore was in the kingdom of Cranganore, while the Christians of Alwaye lived in the principality of Kartha of Alwaye. Since the principality of Mangattu happened to be a major pepper producing enclave, the Portuguese used to give an annual remuneration of 72, 000 reis per year to the ruler of Mangattu obviously for ensuring regular flow of pepper to  the Portuguese factory. By the end of the sixteenth century , besides the old king then living in Alengadu, there were two kings in the kingdom of Mangattu , with one often mentioned in documents as “white” king ruling over Angamali and the other mentioned as ”black” ruling over Alengadu. The Goan Archbishop Dom Alexis de Menesez ensured the support of both the rulers of Angamali and Alengadu for carrying out his Latinization programmes through the agency of Synod of Diamper.[29] It should be here specially mentioned that it was mainly because of the amount of control and influence that the Portuguese retained among the Christians of Angamali and Alengadu through these two kings and their successors that this region came to be predominantly Catholic after the Coonan Cross of Oath of 1653 and the subsequent fragmentation of the community.


Eventually the lineage of these two rulers of Angamali and Alengadu evolved as dynastic lines (tavazhi ) and by the end of seventeenth century the dynastic line of Angamali came to be called Velutha tavazhi (with base at Kothakulangara) and the dynastic line of Alengadu came to be called Karutha tavazhi (with base at Alengadu Kottappuram). In 1663 , when the Dutch attacked Cochin , we see the king of the latter seeking help from the Velutha tavazhi ruler of Angamali to face the Dutch. [30] Perron du Anquetil writes in 1758 that the church of Angamali was in the territory of the Bellouta Tavagi ( Velutha tavazhi) of Angamale,  while the church of Alengadu was in the principality of Karta Tavagi ( Karutha tavazhi).[32]Later with the northward expansion of Travancore and the consequent occupation of the principalities of Alengadu and Angamali by Marthanda Varma during 1750-2, Angamali , Alengadu and other neighbouring places became a part of Travancore.Consequently traders from this region like Thachil Mathu Tharakan of Kuthiathodu started moving over to the new evolving port of Alleppey( ca. 1763) to take advantage of the immense commercial opportunities made available over there with the convergence of pepper flow from the various newly acquired northern and central territories of Travancore.  

European Arrival in Kerala

Arrival of the Europeans marked the beginning of another era in the history of Kerala. In 1498, Vasco da Gama reached Kappad, near Kozhikode. This was followed by the arrival of a number of Europeans. Even while the Europeans emerged as great powers, war continued between the provinces. Marthanda Varma (1706 - 1761),the ruler of Travancore, was one of the strongest rulers of the time. With the arrival of the British begins another chapter of Kerala history.

Most of the commodities were taken from the hinterland to Cochin through several riverine-routes. The seven rivers which flow into Vembanad lake form the principal water-ways. Periyar, which has got a very important position among the wide and diverse networks of rivers, played a major role in linking the far-flung hinterlands lying in the north eastern part with Cochin. It originates near Sabarimaia on the southern side of the Peerumedu hills. But the waters of its tributaries like Mullayaru, Muthirapuzhayaru, Kuttampuzhayaru and Deviyaru, coming from distant and different hilly forests223 make Periyar quite navigable by the time it reaches the low land. An important centre situated on the banks of Periyar in the low land is Thrikkariyo~r.~~~ Kothamangalam, an important pepper-growing centrexs is located some five kilometers to the east of Thrikkariyoor. Kothamangalarn had a big bazaar, as it was the important halting centre for the traders from Tamil country that went to Thrikkariyoor and other neighbouring place^."^ The other spicegrowing regions which this river integrated with Cochin were Perumpaulur (Perumba~oor),'~~ Curupanpady (K~ruppurnpady)~~~ Maleatur (Malayatto~r)~~~ Mekkattur."O Periyar, as a means of communication between the port of Cochin and its hinterland, has a very significant and decisive role when it reaches Al~aye.~~' There was a fair in this place and Alwaye was a major market place. At Alwaye, Periyar is bifurcated and it flowed in to the Arabian sea by two mouths: one into the opening at Cranganore and the other into the mouth of Cochin. The first branch passi~ though Alengad merged into the sea at Cranganore. The second branch or the southern branch that flows south, again is bifurcated into two branches of which one j oins Varapola(Varap~zha)~ while the other passing Rapolim2" merges into the backwaters of Trip~nithara.'~These two branches of Periyar, joining the backwaters of Vembanad, flow into Arabian sea along Cochin. Through Periyar, which has a length of 228.5 ki1ornete1-s23s were carried down to Cochin with the help of tonis and small boats various spices and large quantities of teak, mast wood as well as angelins for ship-building.'j6 Besides these spice-pockets which were situated on the river-side, here were other agrarian centres in the interior extending to the north. The most important among them was Angarnali which,having a great market pIace and three big churches, was the seat of the bishop of St.Thornas Christians. Antonio de Gouveia says that there were two rulers in Angamali: rey branco or Veltctha tavazhi and reypreto or Karutha ta~azhi.~~' In the same kingdom of Angamali or exactly in Velutha tavazhi was located Agaparambim (Akaparamb~)':~ which was peopled mostly by St.Thomas Christians. Other important agrarian pockets were MourikoIam(Moozhikulam) and Manja~pra,~;~ situated in the kingdom of Parur as well as Cheguree(Chowara)'" and Canhur (Kanjoor). 2" These parts of the serra were connected with Cochin, first by a network of land routes and then with the help of water routes.

Story of Angamaly

Previously the St. Thomas Christians were active in the old Cragannore town (Kodungalloor). Soon after the invasion of Muslim armies, the Christians felt unsafe and the local Hindu ruler  gave them protection and allowed them to settle down in a town exclusively for St. Thomas Christians. That is the reason why there is a higher concentration of St. Thomas Christians in Angamaly.

Angamaly, which is close to Cochin ( Ernakulam District), a major city in the state of Kerala, was considered to be the origin and main hub  of St. Thomas Christians, who follow the tradition established by St.Thomas, the great apostle who arrived on the coastal Malabar, Kerala in 52 AD. It is believed from here, St. Thomas Christians had moved to other parts and flourished.

Angamaly (Anga’ means battle and ‘male’ is attributed to a plain ground over a mountain) was the first Archdiocese in India and the jurisdiction of the Angamaly at that time, extended over the whole of India. After the arrival of the Portuguese in India during 16th century, the Portuguese ‘padroado’ came into force. It meant the King of Portugal would give royal protection over the churches in the territories occupied by the Portuguese. After several sea-saw battles between the native St. Thomas Christians and the Portuguese dominated church administration, the Archdiocese seat at Angamaly was restored in 1608 at Angamaly. Its popularity gradually faded in the 18th and 19th century and now Ernakulam, which  was raised to the status of an Archdiocese in 1923,  is functioning as the center of the Syro-Malabar Church. After 1992, the name of the Archdiocese was changed from Ernakulam to Ernakulam – Angamaly.

Interesting facts

 01. Angamaly was a major Buddhist destination in earlier times.

 02. Angamaly is close to  Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Sri Sankara, a great Hindu saint and philosopher – just 7 km away from the town. 

 03. Malayatoor, 14 KM from the town has  a huge church which serves as an important center for all Christians in India as they visit this town throughout the year. 

 04. Well-known  temples such as Thirunayathodu temple, the Elavuru temple, the Venguru temple, the Muzhikulam temple, the Kidangooru temple, the Krishnaswamy temple, and the Jain’s temple are also located in and around the region.

05. Angamaly is the most thickly populated area of Christians in Kerala and the major denomination is Roman Syrian Catholic.

 06. Angamaly is surrounded by 18½ typical pockets of places known as ‘18½ Serrys’ within a radius of about 10 Km.

Angamali has been one of the few places where you find an unprecedented degree and scale  of concentration of the spice producing community in an intense way in Kerala. The remote and shrouded history of Angamali can probably be peeped into by analyzing the different layers of meanings attached to its place name.  Angamali seems to have got its name from  the word “Mali” ( even , empty and plain land space ) where ankams ( battles) were then waged. However, V.V.K. Valath  views that the word “Mali” seems to have been used also to denote sea-port and probably in that sense “ Mali” seems to have denoted the port of Malliankara and the present  geography of Angamali  , which then was the junctional point for the pepper and spices moving from the hinterland  towards the sea-port of Mali( Malliankara) , seems to have got its name from the  practice of the people  of the locality indicating direction to the traders from the hinterland to reach Mali by saying in Tamil “Anke ” (that side )” Mali” (Malliankara). The place from where these traders got direction towards Mali is said to have got the name Angamali ( Anke+ Mali =Angamali meaning ‘on that side is Mali’).[2]

Angamali had for long been the intersecting point for trade routes moving from the central upland part of the region towards Cranganore ( Malliankara) either via Chengamanadu and river Periyar or via Moozhikulam and river Chalakudy  ( through Mala, Puthenchira and Pulloottu) on the western and north western side , and the route running across the ghat and moving towards Tamilnadu via Malayattoor, Bhothathankettu and old Munnar route on the eastern side and the channels going to Trichur through the domains of Koratty kaimal on the northern side.[3] At a time when water channels served as the major lines of transportation and connectivity, commodities reaching Angamali could be easily taken further to Cranganore through the water channel known as Manjali thodu,  which merges into Periyar and the river systems of Periyar and Chalakudy ( which merges into Periyar at Elanthettikkara) used to provide easy accessibility for its traders to reach the port of Cranganore without much hurdles.[4] The frequency with which the Goan Archbishop Dom Alexis de Menezes travelled from Angamali to other water-front places like Parur,Mulanthuruthi, Vaipicota and Cranganore shows that even towards the end of the sixteenth century these riverine routes and water channels continued to serve as the major medium of travel.  It was through the same riverine medium of travel that the first Christians from Cranganore, which was one of the important places connected with the apostolic work of St.Thomas in Kerala in the oral traditions, started moving to Angamali.

In Doldrums....

The relegation of Angamali from the prime position to a peripheral position started happening from the second half of the nineteenth century onwards , when new prominent centres of economic activity began to appear in quick succession all over central Kerala following the migration of Christians to new resourceful geographies like the emerging towns of Kerala for business and banking –related professions  and to the central upland parts of Kerala for clearance of forest and expansion of agriculture.